What causes foot bruises?

Most foot bruising is caused by a minor contusion or injury, such as from minor bumps, scrapes, trips or falls. You may find that you bruise more easily on your feet and legs than on other body parts. This is because those areas are generally more prone to injury and to the effect of gravity on blood flow. Easy bruising may simply be a familial, or inherited, tendency and not necessarily a cause for concern. Easy bruising is referred to as purpura simplex. However, frequent and unexplained bruising on your feet or any part of your body can be a sign of something more serious, such as a blood clotting disorder or a blood disease. Contact your healthcare provider to discuss your symptoms.

Injuries and trauma that can cause a foot bruise

Foot bruises can be caused by everyday injuries or more serious trauma including:

  • Blunt force or crush injury, such as a direct blow to the foot, dropping something on your foot, or crushing your foot under a very heavy object

  • Falling or tripping

  • Foot or ankle fracture

  • Sports injury, such as from running, skiing, snowboarding, or sports that involve person-to-person contact, including football and ice hockey

  • Sprained ankle

  • Walking, running or jumping on hard surfaces

Age, gender and lifestyle causes of a foot bruise

Easy or unexplained bruising on the feet can be caused by age, gender and lifestyle factors, such as:

  • Aging skin

  • Alcohol abuse (decreases blood clotting)

  • Female gender (women tend to bruise more easily than men)

  • Overweight

  • Wearing the wrong size or fit of shoe

Serious underlying diseases and other conditions that can cause a foot bruise

A variety of diseases, disorders and conditions can cause bruising symptoms on many areas of the body. Some serious underlying causes of unexplained bruising or purpura include:

  • Aplastic anemia

  • Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis

  • Certain infectious diseases, such as meningitis, mononucleosis and measles

  • Cushing’s disease

  • Hemophilia and Von Willebrand's disease (inherited bleeding disorders)

  • Insect bites

  • Leukemia

  • Organ failure

  • Thrombocytopenic purpura diseases (potentially life-threatening platelet disorders that cause problems with blood clotting)

  • Vasculitis

  • Vitamin C deficiency (scurvy)

Medications that can cause bruising

The following medications may cause easy bruising or purpura on the feet and elsewhere on the body:

  • Anticoagulants (blood thinners), such as warfarin (Coumadin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), and heparin

  • Antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and paroxetine (Paxil)

  • Antiplatelet medications such as clopidogrel (Plavix)

  • Aspirin

  • Fish oil

  • Ginkgo biloba

  • Interferon

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)

  • Penicillin

  • Radiation or certain cancer chemotherapies

Always tell your doctor about any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements, and herbal or alternative treatments.

What are the potential complications of a foot bruise?

Complications associated with foot bruises can be progressive and vary depending on the underlying cause. Because easy or unexplained bruising of the feet or any part of the body can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in complications and permanent damage. It is important to contact your healthcare provider when you have any kind of persistent or recurrent foot bruising. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, following the treatment plan outlined by your doctor can lower your risk of potential complications including:

  • Compartment syndrome (severe swelling that leads to permanent muscle damage, disability, tissue death, and gangrene)

  • Myositis ossificans (bruised muscle that become calcified by growing bone cells instead of muscle cells as it heals, which can lead to chronic pain and reduced flexibility)


  1. Bleeding into the skin. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003235.htm.
  2. Bruises. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/bruises.html.
  3. Heel Pain. American Podiatric Medical Association. http://www.apma.org/Learn/FootHealth.cfm?ItemNumber=985 .
  4. Henoch-Schonlein purpura. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001461/.
  5. Muscle Contusion (Bruise). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00341.
  6. Purpura. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003232.htm.


What is a foot bruise?

The foot’s major structures are the toes, arch and heel, which are made up of bones, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments. A foot bruise occurs when blood leaks out of the blood vessels in the foot into the tissues of the skin, muscles or bones. Foot bruising can affect any part of the foot, from the toenail to the very back of the heel. A foot bruise may appear on a small part of one foot or... Read more about foot bruiseintroduction


What other symptoms might occur with a foot bruise?

A foot bruise may be accompanied by other symptoms that vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Foot bruises are often associated with foot pain, swelling, and skin discoloration. Easy bruising or unexplained bruising of the feet or any body part may also be accompanied by other bleeding symptoms.

Foot symptoms that may occur along with a foot bruise Read more about foot bruisesymptoms

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 2, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Bones, Joints and Muscles, Injuries and Wounds

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